Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Ever since Dolly the Sheep, was created by the biotechnology wizards through cloning process in 1996, there have been fierce debates regarding the safety of meat and milk derived from the off springs of cloned parents. Even to day there is no unanimity on this controversial issue and consumers are left in the lurch by not providing accurate and reliable information on the subject. Recent reports that American consumers have been eating food products manufactured from cloned animals for the last two years without them knowing about it, do raise ethical and moral questions regarding the role of the safety authorities in that country. A democracy always flourish when there is transparency in what ever the government is doing and here is a perfect example of a country considered a stalwart in democratic form of governance cheating its citizens by not being honest, sincere and transparent when it comes to GM foods or Cloned animal derived products. European countries fare much better in this respect as they are considering imposing compulsory labeling of such products as and when they are permitted to be marketed after conclusively proving their safety. Here is a take on this latest development in cloned animal products.

"Food safety representatives from the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI)  told the European Commission in February they want a bill regulating animal cloning within a year. ENVI has insisted that meat or milk products from the offspring of clones be labeled and traceable. Unfortunately, meat or milk from cloned animals in the US will not be labeled. Some say "is not labeled" because we are already eating it. In 2008, the FDA ruled that products from clones and their offspring will not be labeled because they are "no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals"--the same thing that was said about rBGH-produced milk.  Nevertheless, the FDA asked producers to "voluntarily keep milk and meat from clones out of the food and feed supplies until we finish assessing their safety." Key words: asked and voluntarily. But a 2010 demonstration in England over possible unlabeled and illegal food from clones in that country revealed that clones may already be on the American dinner plate-- with US food consumers being the last to know. The BBC, while reporting on the British cloned herd, said that cloned products have been in the US food supply for two years. Who knew? Jim McLaren, president of Scotland's National Farmers Union, concurred and told the press, "If you go to the US or Canada you will almost certainly be consuming meat and dairy products from cloned animals at every turn." Margaret Wittenberg, global vice-president of Whole Foods Market,  agreed. United States customers are "oblivious" to cloned products in the food supply, she verified to the BBC. "You don't hear about it in the media. And when you do tell people about it they look at you and say 'you're kidding! They're not doing that are they? Why would they?'" Whole Foods says it bans the sale of cloned products. When Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was asked point-blank, during a 2010 trade mission in Canada, if "cloned cows or their offspring have made it into the North American food supply,' he put no fears to rest. "I can't say today that I can answer your question in an affirmative or negative way. I don't know. What I do know is that we know all the research, all of the review of this is suggested that this is safe." So much for informed public officials. An FDA report written in collaboration with Cyagra, a Pennsylvania-based clone company, seeks to put public fears at rest over the brave new food. Not a big surprise since Cyagra, boasts about selling clone products to US butchers (who presumably sell to customers) and about its employees regularly dining on cloned products, say British new sources. Since the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was created, cattle, horses, goats, pigs, and mice have been cloned, as well as dogs and cats, a mouflon sheep, a mule, and a racing camel. In fact, cloning doesn't even make headlines anymore. But lengthy reports from both FDA and  European Food Safety Authority raise questions about the safety of milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring, their welfare and protection from suffering and the soundness of the cloning process. Why not let food consumers vote whether they want to support such food with their forks, say US and European consumers, by simply labeling them? END"

Why is this happening repeatedly in this particular country? How can the US which has substantial conservative population which abhors abortion as a strategy for family planning condone the sufferings and distortions taking place among cloned animals? When Dolly was created it took 277 aborted attempts and only one could survive! Look at the policy paralysis that has overtaken the American government when it comes to taking any decision against the powerful industry lobbies. First it was GM foods which were permitted under severe pressure from the powerful food and biotech industries. In spite of massive protests against the present policy of not making label declaration of GM foods compulsory, there does not appear to be any hurry on the part of the government to change the policy soon. Now comes the news that the safety authorities are ignoring the wide prevalence of food products in the market made from cloned animals during the last two years. Does this not amount to total insensitivity to the feelings, apprehensions and aspirations of people at large? If irradiated foods have to carry labels declaring the process used, why is that same rule cannot be applied to GM foods and Cloned animal foods? Is there any rationale or logic? Is the government in the US for the people or for the all powerful industry lobbyists? One can only sympathize with the agony and dilemma faced by the US consumers due to thoughtless policies and actions of their government!


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